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(Can be found under DESIGN tab)
DEVOTIONS FOR MEN
This is the first of a series based on Paul's letter to the Ephesians. Before reading the stuff we write, you should take a moment and read Ephesians 1 for yourself. (The link provided takes you to www.biblegateway.com, where you can access multiple translations from whatever digital device you prefer. We also still recommend a printed Bible and a place where you can be alone for awhile. Do what helps YOU connect to God.)
It's impossible to miss Paul's focus on Christ in this chapter. He begins the letter by identifying himself as "an apostle of Christ Jesus" who is writing to "faithful followers of Christ Jesus." In fact, He specifically refers to Jesus more than 23 times in the 23 verses of this chapter, clearly presenting Christ as the nexus of God's plan for humanity from before creation and for all eternity. Check out the last few verses:
I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God's power for us who believe Him. This is is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavenly realms. Now He is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else--not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made Him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is His body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with Himself. (Ephesians 1:19-23, NLT)
Here's the problem: when modern Christians hear that someone is "preaching Christ" or "focusing on Christ," we tend to assume that they concentrate on His death. We love to offer people forgiveness, a hope of heaven after death, and a chance to know God based on Jesus' sacrifice on the cross--and this is not a bad thing. Without Him taking our punishment, we would have no hope of forgiveness or knowing God, so of course we must teach and celebrate that moment. Still, as great as the cross was, it's only a small piece of God's big plan or what Jesus meant when He said He was THE Way, THE Truth, and THE Life (see John 14:6).
Re-read the passage above--which completely focuses on Jesus--and notice that the only time it mentions His death is in verse 7 ("He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins") verse 14 ("...He has purchased us to be His own people...so we would praise and glorify Him") and 19-20 ("...This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him...). Everything else Paul says about Jesus in this passage refers to the LIVING Christ.
We miss the whole point of both passages if we believe God's ultimate desire is to forgive us. Jesus did not just die to pay for our sins; He also died so He could conquer death and unleash God's mighty power in our lives. As Jesus Himself said in John 10:10, "...My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life."